If There’s One Thing I’m Really Good At It’s…

I have a brother who’s an amazing, caring, wonderful person.  He is not, however, the most professionally successful person you could ever meet.  He works hard, he’s tried lots of different things, he just doesn’t ever get too far.  He made a comment yesterday to the affect that he’s starting to think that the reason he’s so unsuccessful is that he keeps trying to do things that he cannot do.  He didn’t really go into detail but the way I read it, at least the way I read it the first time through, was that he keeps trying to do things he’s not good at.  ( I have no way of knowing (yet) if that is in fact what he meant, but he reads this blog and comments with some amount of regularity so it’s possible we’ll all know before too long.  Until them I’m going to carry on with this post inspired by my interpretation.)

I think that we’d all agree that we’d be best served in life by pursuing those areas in which we do the best.  If we have a particular talent for playing the tuba and no ability whatsoever at playing the flute then it’s probably best to become a tubist (almost certainly not a word) and not a flautist (pronounced floutist and most certainly a word).  And therein lies my problem.  I have no idea what I’m good at.

I’m not writing this in an attempt to garner sympathy.  This is not a compliment fishing expedition.  I know that there are things that I’m good at, lots of them.  Heck, if you catch me on a good day, or even on an average day, I’d probably tell you that I’m a genius and multi-talented and gorgeous to boot.  I even mostly believe all those things.  The problem is that I have no idea whether or not they’re true.

I don’t watch a lot of American Idol but I’ve seen a few episodes here and there, and a few of the episodes I’ve seen are those opening episodes of the new seasons, the ones where you get to see the up and coming stars perform and those other performances.  You know, the ones that are so bad that you can’t believe that those people had the nerve to open their mouths at all.  The thing is, with the possible exception of William Hung (who I really like to believe knew he was awful and just managed to parley that into a “thing” for 15 minutes and a million dollars or so), these people think that they’re good.  They really believe that they can sing, that they are flautists, and that they’re going to make the big time.  They’re just really really wrong.

I work with a nurse that has the same problem.  It’s not that she doesn’t try, it’s not that she doesn’t care, it’s not that she doesn’t have the education, she’s currently working on her masters in nursing.  And she’s not the worst nurse ever, it’s just that she’s a horrible charge nurse.  She doesn’t have the knack, the feeling for it, the je ne sais quoi.  Corporate healthcare being what it is, it doesn’t really matter, there are policies and procedures, checks and balances, set up to prevent catastrophic mistakes even from the most inept of nurses (and her ineptitude doesn’t extend to patient care it’s more of a logistical decision making problem) but the fact remains that this poor woman has devoted her professional life to rising in the ranks of nurses, hoping to eventually do some kind of nurse managing, an area in which she just will not ever excel and where she’ll never be trusted or fully accepted.  The problem is that she doesn’t know that.

And it’s not that she hasn’t been told.  Just like the mocked would be American Idol contestants, she’s been told that she has a problem, she’s been retrained, she’s been put on probation, but much like those tone deaf folks on Idol, she believes in herself.

Just off the top of my head I can come up with several more examples of people around me being totally delusional on one topic or another.  I’m sure you can too.  Which leads me to wonder where my delusion lies.

I’ve spent the last 2 years working (slowly) toward a nursing degree.  And the long range plan is that I’ll spend several more years and A LOT more money carrying on in that vein.  Eventually I’d like to be a trauma NP.  This is a high stress, high acuity career.  I think I’d be good at it, I do have some experience with trauma and critical care and I think I acquitted myself quite well.  But what if I’m like that nurse that I work with?  And, possibly more importantly, how would I know?

If you were to really get to the top of any one discipline then I guess you’d know.  I doubt that Micheal Phelps wonders whether he’s actually a very good swimmer, I imagine that Celine Dion knows that she can carry a tune and Bill Gates is probably aware of his talent in regards to computer programming and business.  But most of us are never going to win gold medals or platinum albums or make trillions of dollars.  So how do we know? Is failing at something really proof that you’re not any good at it?  Is succeeding at something proof that you are?  (William Hung did make some money off his album after all.)

I don’t really have an answer, maybe it doesn’t matter, maybe being happy doing it is all that’s really required.  Maybe just doing something, anything, is good enough.  I’m really not sure.  I am, however, pretty sure that I don’t want to be a struggling flutist when I could rock the tuba.

Has anyone seen my tuba?

What Was That? I Can’t Hear You.

The InfaDel was up at about 1am last night with a cough, I let him come to bed with us (I know, shut up) but he spent the next hour coughing such that I couldn’t sleep at all. So we got up, the Infadel and I,  I gave him some nyquil (I know, shut up) put on “How to Train Your Dragon” and we hunkered down on the couch. I believe that if you do nothing “How to Train Your Dragon” will play itself over and over and over again. All night.

Also my couch is hugely uncomfortable.

I’ve lost my voice. It’s always a very strange experience when you say something but somehow nothing actually comes out of your mouth.  Hopefully my children will behave because I am incapable of yelling at them. (Some people would say that now would be a good time to learn new coping mechanisms but I say “give me a break, I spent the night on the couch”.)

I was going to try to get some real cleaning done today but I spent the night on the couch so I just don’t think that’s going to happen.  Instead I think I’m going to spend the day on the couch as well.

If I had known how effectively the self cleaning feature on my oven warms up the main floor of my house I would have spent the winter with a much cleaner oven.

A Post Far Too Long For the Pointless Point I’m Trying to Get Across

For six years, from the age of 12, when my older brother left for college, until the age of 18 when I left for college, I got up every morning at 4:00.  Or maybe it was 4:30.  It might have been 5:00 in the summers.  Shoot, that was a long time ago, I can’t remember.  The point is that I was getting up at dawn’s tramp stamp (because it was just a little before the crack…).  And not only getting up but getting up to deliver newspapers.  Newspapers that had to be placed on doorsteps, none of this end of the driveway crap for us (I can’t remember if that was the Washington Post’s rule or our distributor’s rule or my parents rule but the fact remains that that was the rule (keep your shirt on, I’m getting to the point.) and I’ve always been more or less of a rule follower so I followed it.) which meant that I spent many hours of my formative years wandering around in the out of doors at the crack of dawn (and before) in all kinds of weather (Speaking of all kinds of weather, I remember the year of the storms that they made that movie “the Perfect Storm” about and while I was not swordfishing off the east coast through that series of storms I was living in Virginia which is on the east coast and I was delivering newspapers in snow up to my hips and I was doing it even though the US postal service had opted to not deliver mail.  Through rain and snow and dark of night… my left foot…) and in all seasons.

That’s what I’ve been trying to get to, the “all seasons” part.

Yesterday I had to be to work by 6:30 which meant that at 6:00 (a time affectionately known as dawn’s dimple) I was walking from my house to my car.  It was chilly, it was a bit windy, but I found as I put the key into the lock on the drivers door I looked up and one thought passed through my mind, “spring”.  There was something in the quality of the air, the way it felt and sounded that told me very clearly it’s spring.

Today it’s sunny, beautiful and 65 degrees.  Now I’m not saying that it won’t snow again this season, I’m not saying that I won’t spend a little more time cursing the cold before I start cursing the heat, I’m just saying that it’s spring.

And I’m not saying that I caused it, I’m just saying I was there when it happened.

“Obvious Advice is the Worst Thing About Facebook”

This morning my sister posted this status on facebook: “i’m past the point of yelling….i’ve entered the defeated stage.” I responded with something (two things actually) about how I was right there with her but this other woman, someone who I’m sure is a completely lovely person, responded with “It gets better, I promise!”

Really? Really? Was this response necessary? Of course it gets better, the fact that there are still humans on the planet proves that it gets better. If it didn’t get better then our parents would have killed us all when we were kids and driving them crazy and we wouldn’t be here to have kids of our own to drive us crazy (in what some like to call the great circle of life).

Why do people feel the need to post, or even say, things like that?

When I complain (which I do with some regularity) I don’t want reassurance, I know that “this too shall pass”, and that “that which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger” (or permanently debilitated), and I know that “it gets better”. I don’t need you to tell me. I don’t want you to tell me.

If that’s all you have to say then I want you to leave me alone.

However, because I am nothing if not helpful and accommodating, here is a list of the kinds responses that I will accept.

1. Snark right back. I comment that I hate the weather go ahead and tell me that the weather hates me too.
2. Tell me to get over myself. This is best done with overblown and somewhat amorphous problems used in comparison (“really, your kids are crying? Well there are kids in Libya who can’t cry because their despot governmental leader will kill them if they do”) as compared to something more tangible (“Your husband worked all day? Well my sister’s husband just bankrupted the family and then took off leaving her alone with 4 kids under 5”) but really the point is the same either way, in the grand scheme of things I don’t have it so bad.
3. Give me your comparable story. This is not done in the spirit of one-upmanship, I don’t want to hear about how your day was so much worse because… just tell me about how yours was bad too, misery loves company after all. (Unless your day really was that much worse, if I’m complaining that I stubbed my toe and you broke your femur you can go ahead and tell me to “get over it you whiny little baby.”)
4. Blow it out of proportion. I tell you that I messed up dinner, tell me that you’re so sorry for my loss (of dinner) and you hope that with some time to mourn and some therapy I can move on and still make something of my life. There’s nothing like blowing something even farther out of proportion to give a little perspective.
5. Make me laugh. Seriously, something, anything. In context or out, if you can make me laugh you’re golden.
6. Give me an “amen.” If you agree with me, you know what I’m saying and you agree with me and have felt or are feeling the same way toss me a “sing it sister” and be done with it.
7. Just stay silent. Often when I’m complaining I just want to get it out. I don’t need your support, I’m not looking for your sympathy, I just want to get it out there. If I’ve done that then my job is done. You read it and if you have nothing to add then your job is done. Wasn’t that easy?

I have one more thing to say because as obnoxious as the pointless platitudes are there is one thing that makes me want to stab myself (and the commenter) in the eye it’s the (((hugs))). Seriously people.

Choosing the Miracle

Last Saturday night, just like every Saturday night, I was on call.  It wasn’t too bad, I called when my shift started and I didn’t have to go in.  I didn’t get called in while the Wonderhusband and I watched or post-kid-bedtime TV (Battlestar Galactica on Netflix).  I brushed my teeth and said my prayers and did all that bedtimey stuff and still nothing.

Until 1:00,  when my pager went off.

So I hauled myself out of bed, found some clothes and headed out into the cold.  And it was cold, somewhere around 20 degrees.

Normally I drive the sedan when I go to work, we don’t so much have his and hers cars as we do work and not work cars.  Whoever goes to work on any particular day takes the sedan leaving the van home with the one of us who has the kids to haul around (or potentially haul around as the case may be).  But the sedan is making a weird rubbing noise whenever it moves (Sean says it’s the brakes) and it was 1 in the morning, it wasn’t likely that there would be a lot of kid hauling for Sean to do, so I took the van.

I drove there, clocked in, settled into a chair at the OR front desk (I’m just on call to come in a hold down the fort in case there’s a trauma while the in-house team has to do cases) I had just opened Netflix on my iTouch and was getting ready to watch the next episode of Friday Night Lights when the case that the in-house team was supposed to do canceled.  Which meant that I could go home.

My hospital is on the campus of the University of Utah, right next to the University hospital.  Because it’s a college campus there’s plenty of public transportation all over the place.  But not so much at 2am on a Saturday. Over the last year or so I’ve made it a habit of picking up people who are stuck on campus and because the public transit is no longer running, unable to get to where they need to go.  In the last year I’ve only picked up, I think, two people, it’s not an overly common occurrence.  Saturday, as I was driving away from the hospital, I passed a group of people walking down the road, on the road, next to the light rail tracks.

Did I mention that it was 2 am and 20 degrees out?  Not a great time for a walk.  I pulled over, backed up, and rolled down the window (which I could do from my seat because I was in the van which has power windows, unlike the sedan…) Did they need a ride?

They did.  But they were going all the way downtown to the homeless shelter, and there were 5 of them.

“It’s just me in my big empty van, hop in.”

They bundled in and mostly chatted amongst themselves during the 10 minute drive. I dropped them off and headed home, no muss no fuss.

Now, maybe it was a coincidence that I drove the van, that I got called in for a case that didn’t end up happening, that I was driving my big empty van down medical drive just as this group of five were realizing that the train wasn’t running and that they’d have to walk all the way downtown in the cold.

Or maybe not.

I’m Thankful For Your Help

I need a service project that my family can do.  Ideally something that even the little kids (3&4) can be involved in and maybe that the older kids (10&8 ) can be at least semi-in charge of.  It can’t cost more than about $10 (seriously, the economy seems to have caught up with us finally) and I do still have school and work etc. so hugely time consuming isn’t really an option either (although I am willing to devote some time to it obviously).

Ready? Go.

Just Don’t Say Anything Nice

I had a horrible day last Sunday.  I’m not going to go into details about why  or what happened because I don’t want to, and it will take too long, and frankly because it’s none of your business, suffice it to say that it was a crappy day.

It was a crappy enough day that by the end of sacrament meeting I was crying on and off.  Mostly I was keeping it together but every once in a while my control would slip and I’d loose it, a tear or two would leak out and then I’d have to repeat the herculean effort of stopping, and mopping up my face and staving off the crying again.  Most of the time I managed it.

But then sacrament meeting ended, and that my friends was a problem.  As long as sacrament meeting was going I could sit and cry if I needed to and sniffle and wipe my tears and so forth.  And while it’s possible that other people around me saw, and noticed they couldn’t do anything about it because we were in the middle of a meeting and you can’t really get up and chat with someone in the middle of a meeting.  But when the meeting ends… then you can.

It’s true that I was having a horrible day and that I was miserable and all the attendant badness.  But when I’m in a public place and I’m having a horrible day and I’m just barely keeping it together I really need you to NOT be nice to me.

I believe that there’s no surer way to make a woman cry than to corner her when she’s trying really hard not to cry and be nice to her.

In fact, I firmly believe that there is nothing worse you can do to a woman in that state  than to be nice to her.  I think, although I have never tested the theory, that you could probably be mean to me when I’m in that state and that would be fine, at least it would not unleash the flood that a kind word will.  The best thing, of course, is to ignore completely, either ignore me altogether or at the very least, ignore my fragile state.  But DO NOT be nice to me, then it’s all over.

So there I am trying to herd the kids out of the meeting and into the car and remembering that I needed to pay my tithing and fighting with the InfaDel and… and someone has to come up to me and say something nice.  The jerk.

In the end I did manage to pay the tithing and get out before I made a complete fool of myself (I think) but it was a close thing and I did have to wave off the bishop who looked at me very concernedly and tried to ask me what was wrong or what he could do or some such other kindly meant but ultimately unpleasant (for both of us) query.  I waved him away and I ran (not literally, quite).

I made it home and I had a good yell and I slammed cupboards (strange how quickly depression morphs into anger, and back and forth) and I got it out and I’m fine now.  But I implore you, next time you see me on the verge of tears and you just must do something, punch me in the nose if necessary, just don’t ask me what’s wrong.

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